Tenant Guide

Tenant Guide

If you’re looking to rent a property the primary things on your mind are probably that: you rent a property that you like; in an area that suits you; and at a cost that makes financial sense.

And for sure, these should be the most important things that you consider. Once you’ve found the right property, the focus will very much go on to how smoothly your tenancy develops and the relationship you have with your agent / landlord.

You may think only of the landlord’s responsibilities when renting a property. For example, you have the right to live in a safe, habitable property, undisturbed. However, it’s vital to follow the rules of the tenancy agreement to avoid conflict with the landlord. Some of your responsibilities include paying rent on time, reporting any maintenance issues, paying bills, and looking after the place.

There may be a need to resolve disputes with a landlord on some occasions. Of course, renting a place through a trusted letting agent like Truepenny’s means that any issues are minimal. Our team of experts always strive to sort out problems promptly.

To help make your tenancy a success, we have put together this handy guide to being a tenant:

Tenancy Agreement

The tenancy agreement is a legally binding document giving you the right to live in the property. The tenancy agreement is usually written, but it can also be verbal. Typically, the agreement lasts for 12 months and specifies the length, rent amount, associated parties and responsibilities.

Here are details that are usually included in the written tenancy agreement:

  • Name and address of you and the landlord
  • The starting date of the tenancy and its duration
  • The amount of rent payable, when rent is due, and when it can be increased
  • Details of whether other people can live in the property
  • What rent includes, for example, utilities or council tax
  • If you are allowed pets, or whether you can smoke in the property
  • Notice periods to end the tenancy

Before signing a tenancy agreement, always read the document carefully.

What We / The Landlord Check Before Signing the Tenancy

Before signing the tenancy agreement we’ll check various references. The landlord must be sure that you’re a reliable tenant, who will pay the rent on time and look after the property. Referencing involves checking your employment status, income, and references from previous landlords along with a credit check.

If you are renting for the first time, or there is an issue with referencing, the landlord may request a guarantor. This is someone who will pay rent or for property damage if you can’t.

Upfront Costs When Renting a Flat or House

Before moving in, you’ll have some upfront costs to pay. Most landlords require a tenancy deposit and one months’ rent in advance. You will also be required to pay a holding deposit to reserve a property while the landlord checks references. However, this money is deducted from the final monies due at the beginning of the tenancy.

Tenancy deposits: The tenancy deposit can’t be more than five weeks’ rent where the rent is below £50,000 per annum. Where the rent is £50,000 and above the security deposit is set at six weeks’ rent. The landlord must put the deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP). You will get the deposit back at the end of the tenancy. However, the landlord can hold part of it if there is property damage, utility bill debts, or rent due.

Relationship with the Landlord

The relationship with the landlord goes a long way to your enjoyment of living in the property. The landlord must ensure your statutory right to “live in quiet enjoyment”. So, it’s good to know what your landlord can and cannot do.

For example, the landlord can’t turn up unannounced unless there is an emergency. Therefore, you should expect at least 24-hours written notice before they visit you. Additionally, they can’t change the locks unannounced — even if you’re in arrears. In addition, the landlord can only visit at a reasonable time during the week. And one of your responsibilities is to allow access to the property at a mutually agreeable time.

Of course, if there is an emergency — a fire, gas leak or flood — then a landlord is able to enter without notice.

But suppose your family situation changes. In that case, the landlord cannot terminate the lease based on anything discriminatory. For example, if you become disabled due to illness or an accident, the landlord must make reasonable adjustments to the property to make it liveable.

Another responsibility of the landlord is to carry out essential repairs. Therefore, they must ensure there is running water, heating, hot water, adequate drainage, and all the utilities are working.

Responsibilities as a Tenant

As a private tenant, you also have specific responsibilities. Of course, you must pay rent by the due date and stick to the tenancy agreement terms. However, being a good tenant requires more. Here are a few additional responsibilities of tenants:

  • Not causing deliberate damage and to pay for repairing any accidental property damage
  • Not sneaking in pets if the agreement doesn’t allow it
  • Allow your landlord access at reasonable times
  • Promptly report any repairs
  • Keep good communication with your landlord

Repairs and Maintenance Issues

Landlords are responsible for keeping rental properties habitable and safe. As a tenant, you have the right to expect that your landlord carries out essential repairs to keep the property well-maintained.

Here is a list of what you can expect from a landlord when it comes to health and safety in rented accommodation:

  • Smoke alarms and CO2 detectors must be installed and working
  • Furniture must meet fire safety standards
  • Each gas appliance must have a safety certificate
  • Repairs must be done swiftly to ensure you have access to hot water, electricity, gas and other utilities

It is vital to report maintenance issues promptly. This ensures we can arrange to repair or replace the fixtures or fittings as soon as possible.

Property inspections happen once or twice a year as per the terms in the tenancy agreement. We will also give you proper notice of the arranged inspection — at least 24 hours in advance. If the date or time isn’t suitable, we can arrange another time.

Unlawful Eviction

It is illegal for landlords to evict you without a Court Order. This means that they can’t change the locks, switch off utilities, or harass you in other ways to force you out. This applies even if you are in violation of the tenancy agreement.

Rent Increases

Your landlord cannot arbitrarily raise your rent. If they want to increase your rent, they need to follow specific rules based on the type of rental agreement you have. However, suppose you have already started paying the increased amount. In that case, you can’t challenge the rent increase.

Problems With Rent Payments

Don’t ignore the problem if you’re having trouble paying your rent. Always talk to your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible about the situation. Many landlords are willing to work with tenants going through temporary difficulties.

However, it would be best if you also worked at reducing monthly expenses, sorting out a payment plan, and exploring help through government benefits. The most important thing is to get back in control of rent payments and avoid eviction.

End of Tenancy / Moving Out

Near the end of the tenancy term, we will contact you about your plans to see if you wish to to stay or move out. Typically, if you plan to leave you will need to provide two months’ notice in line with your rent due date as per your tenancy agreement.

If you plan to move out, we will arrange for you to hand back the keys either at a check-out appointment whereby we will ensure the property has been left in an appropriate condition or to the appropriate office.

If the property is in an acceptable condition, you will receive your full deposit back. Any damage apart from fair wear and tear is taken from the deposit.

It is also a good idea to clean the property thoroughly before moving out. In other words — to return it to the move-in condition when you first received the keys.

When moving out of a rented property, the last task is to take meter readings and inform the utility suppliers and settle your final bills.

''Truepenny's Property Consultants'' is a trading name of:

Truepenny's Property Consultants Ltd. | Registered in England & Wales- Company reg. no. 6498038 - Registered office: 16 Lordship Lane, Dulwich, SE22 8HN
Truepenny's of London Ltd. | Registered in England & Wales - Company reg. No. 10594437 - Registered office: 38 King William Walk, Greenwich, London, SE10 9HU
Callcut & Co. Ltd. | Registered in England & Wales - Company reg. No. 08321706 - Registered office: 16 Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, Docklands, London E14 9XL


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